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  • 2012

Vitamin D deficiency is very common among Saudi couples

Published on

11 April 2012

A new study from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has observed an alarmingly high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency among married couples, with wives showing significantly lower nutrient levels than their husbands.

To compare vitamin D deficiency in married couples, with the research hypothesis that the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency is higher among women (wives) compared with men (husbands), the observational study measured blood vitamin D concentrations, dietary habits and risk factors for deficiency of 50 healthy married couples aged 16 to 60 (1). The study results showed that the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency (below 25 nmol/l) was 70% for women, compared with only 40% for men (98% resp. 92% below the recommended 50 nmol/l). Vitamin D levels were higher in men with mean difference of about 9 nmol/l. Men had greater exposure to the sun, used lighter clothing at home and drank more milk.

The researchers concluded that vitamin D deficiency is very high among Saudi married couples, especially wives. Thus, like having a sedentary lifestyle or consuming too little milk, being a woman living in the Middle East could be considered an independent predictor of lower vitamin D levels. The scientists commented that the very high prevalence rates among asymptomatic individuals may point to the need for research evaluating the utility and applicability of the levels set for diagnosing vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency in the Saudi Arabian region.

Although sun exposure is considered a major source of vitamin D, the prevalence of its deficiency is paradoxi-cally much higher in countries with sunny climates, such as Saudi Arabia (2), Egypt (3), Oman (4), United Arab Emirates (5) and Jordan (6). Dietary factors play an important role in this problem. Not consuming vitamin D-rich foods has been shown to be one of the main risk factors (5), in addition to the lack of vitamin D supplementation (7).


  1. Elshafie D. E. et al. Comparison of vitamin D deficiency in Saudi married couples. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Published online March 2012.
  2. Al-Turki H. A. et al. 25-Hydoxyvitamin D levels among healthy Saudi Arabian women. Saudi Med J. 2008; 29:1765–1768.
  3. Lotfi A. et al. Hypovitaminosis D in female patients with chronic low back pain. Clin Rheumatol. 2007; 26:
  4. Al-Kindi M. K. Vitamin D status in healthy Omani women of childbearing age: study of female staff at the Royal Hospital, Muscat, Oman. Sultan Qaboos Univ Med J. 2011; 11:56–61.
  5.  Laleye L. C. et al. Assessment of vitamin D and vitamin A intake by female students at the United Arab Emirates University based on self-reported dietary and selected fortified food consumption. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2011; 62:370–376.
  6. Batieha A. et al. Vitamin D status in Jordan: dress style and gender discrepancies. Ann Nutr Metab. 2011; 58:10–18.
  7. Glerup H. et al. Commonly recommended daily intake of vitamin D is not sufficient if sunlight exposure is limited. J Intern Med. 2000; 247:260–268.

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